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What Can I Do With a Counseling Degree?

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Combining good listening skills with perception make those wishing to obtain a degree in counseling good candidates for a variety of jobs. A degree in counseling prepares students for jobs in which they will encounter patients needing advice for coping with stress, anxiety, depression, emotional disorders and relationship problems. Some patients will need help managing aging issues in a rapidly growing older population. Others will require advice on dealing with career problems such as job stress, changing jobs or total career changes. The counseling degree student will learn to help patients with substance abuse problems, sexual abuse problems, mental disorders, self-esteem problems and dealing with the death of a loved one. Since the job market today includes many service-related positions, the job outlook for a counseling major looks good.

Counseling Jobs

Counseling students will immediately consider going into the school system as a student counselor. Other options include mental health, substance abuse, and career counseling. Counseling is about inter-reaction with people needing help. In most every industry someone needs help. Counseling students might consider:

*Police and Law Enforcement. These individuals encounter much stress and anxiety dealing with law breakers, family disputes and young people needing help. Counseling these people would make carrying out their jobs less disturbing.

*Fire and Rescue. Just like police, working on the cutting edge of death and ugliness makes counseling necessary.

*Management Services. Those in management positions deal with interpersonal relations every day. Dispute arbitrage and mediation services are just two of the things management deals with. Counseling such management would be a worthy job.

*Interpersonal Relationships. Customer service personnel in any industry would benefit from the services of a counselor. Career pressures, self-esteem issues and job stress are just a few of the things counseling would improve for these workers.

*Clergy. It is not extraordinary for a student in counseling to go into the clergy. Not unlike industry, human relationships flounder in the religious sense as well. Clergy tend to advise youth and married persons in the way they should go in addition to helping people deal with death and other emotional problems.

*Social Workers. Interpersonal relationships often cause family upheaval and it is here that a counseling student might put his/her education to good use.

Counseling Job Outlook and Salary

As of 2009, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, or BLS, projects counseling jobs as one of the fastest growing categories before 2020. Employers are more likely to control costs by engaging the services of a counselor before sending employees to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Job opportunities are expected to grow in this area for those students with an advanced degree. Information on median income is as follows:

Mental Health Counselors Median Income $38,000
Marriage and Family Counselors Median Income $46,000
Rehabilitation Counselors Median Income $31,000
School Counselors Median Income $52,000
Other Counselors Median Income $41,000

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Counselor Job Duties

Counselors often work in offices. Some will work out of hospitals or clinics. Counselors will deal with specific groups of persons if they work in schools or hospitals. Counselors in private practice and advising management, law enforcement or fire and rescue personnel will likely travel to their clients’ offices to do their work. Counselors may work individually or in a team setting.

Counselors will file paperwork with proper state and federal agencies and necessary insurance filings. This is part of the records every counselor keeps on their clients, including any medications recommended by the counselor and which the client’s health care professional will prescribe.

Onto this paperwork will go clients’ thoughts and reactions to therapy sessions. Information thus gathered will indicate a client’s needs and guidance. Tests may be necessary to ascertain a client’s needs. Such tests will provide the counselor with a direction in which to take the client’s therapy. From this information the client will obtain the skill with which to manage their problems.

Counseling Education

Education requirements vary by state and federal agency as well as employer’s requirements. The counseling student might obtain a good job on just a Bachelor’s degree; however, a Master’s degree in psychology is usually required for licensing. Many employers offer a learning program in which the counselor with a Bachelor’s degree may engage in continuing education within his/her field.

Those considering a career in counseling will begin with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology. This course of education will give the counseling student skills in:

*understanding basic psychological processes

*applying varying theories of behavior to different kinds of counseling

*communicating with individual clients as well as those in group settings

*behavioral and developmental testing in addition to interpretation of results.

Where are counseling jobs?

Would a counseling student like to work at Hickham Field/Pearl Harbor in Honolulu? Clinical counselors are needed there. Perhaps working in Memphis, Tennessee as a weight loss counselor would appeal to a counseling student. Working in a research facility in New York might inspire a counseling student. A peer counselor in California, a substance abuse counselor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or a family counselor in Concord, North Carolina is all available to the counseling student. There are jobs in a variety of agencies and companies in each state. If the counseling student seeks a job, Googling “states with counseling jobs” will net him/her over 19,000 job opportunities.


A counselor spends the day in the office reading the latest in psychological writings, seeing clients and doing paperwork. In other words, it’s just a day at the office. That’s not all there is to life, though. If a counselor needs to unwind from the pressures of day-to-day work, perhaps a lifestyle counselor would be of use. This type of counselor has experience in bleeding off stress and anxiety, thereby leading the counselor into healthy lifestyle habits such as exercise and good sleeping habits. A counselor with great lifestyle habits will be balanced in addition to being able to lead clients into a better balanced life.

For those considering a counseling career good listening skills along with perception and a desire to help are the basic skills necessary to make a beginning. Coupled with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology the counseling courses will provide the student with the necessary background to put his/her desire to help to good use in answering what can I do with a counseling degree?